Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vanilla Poached Pears

Fruit and custard. I remember my Grandma used to stew her own apples and serve them topped with warm custard. I can't remember if she made her own custard or if it was made from powder in a can, but it was such a delicious dessert, we always looked forward to visits with Grandma.

And then, about three years ago I was invited to a luncheon with a friend and for dessert we had a lovely poached pear. Ever since, she has been asking if I could make up the recipe, and well, finally, here it is.

By combining both memories - the restaurant and Grandma's version - I came up with a vanilla poached pear with a white chocolate creme anglaise.

Poached pears, if kept in their syrup, will keep for quite some time in the refrigerator, the creme anglaise maybe two days.
Once poached though, you can slice them on top of cereal for breakfast, add them chopped to a pancake mixture, stir them through fruit muffins, add them to a sandwich with some sharp cheddar - basically, the list is endless. You can switch up the flavouring to whatever you have available, or whatever you feel like. Fresh ginger would be delicious, ginger and pears just seem to have a "thing" for each other. Anise would add a licorice flavour, you could add whole cloves or cinnamon sticks, bay leaves would be great too.

Just remember to use almost-ripe pears. Bosc seem to hold their shape the best, but Bartlett work just as well too. Mini pears would look so cute.


Vanilla Poached Pears
Makes 8 poached pears

2 cups sugar
6 cups water
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
8 almost ripe pears

Combine the sugar and water in a large pan. Add the vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick. Stir well.

Peel the pears leaving the stems attached and place into the sugar mixture.

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a really gentle simmer and cook 20-25 minutes or until pears are tender and a small kinfe can insert easily into the base. Cool in syrup. (See - it's so easy)

White Chocolate Creme Anglaise
Makes 3 cups

1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
1/3 cup white sugar
4 egg yolks
100g white chocoate, chopped

Bring the cream, milk and vanilla (pod and seeds) to a simmer.

Meanwhile, mix together the sugar and the egg yolks, whisking until the yolks have turned a pale yellow colour.

Place the chopped chocolate into a clean medium size bowl.

When the cream/milk mixture just starts to bubble around the edges, pour a little (about 1/4 cup) at a time into the egg mixture, stirring constantly, until at least half of the milk mixture is added to the eggs. Pour the eggs back into the saucepan with the milk and using a wooden spoon, stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to just coat the back of the spoon.

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the custard over the chocolate in the bowl (discard the vanilla pod). Stir until the chocolate has melted.

Serve warm with the poached pears, or cover and refrigerate for up to three days.

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